Missing in Action: Patient Perspective on Cancer Trial Goal

Source: OncLive, January 2018

There is a critically important subject associated with the clinical trial experience that has had inadequate discussion within the medical literature. That is, what is the role, or roles, of the patient beyond simply agreeing to serve as a research subject? This question is far from trivial or theoretical.
At the outset, let us consider that some clinical academic and bioethics experts as well as some governmental regulators have expressed the belief that clinical research and clinical care are fundamentally different endeavors. Such a belief apparently underlies decisions to conduct randomized placebo-controlled trials in order to observe an objectively measurable outcome in settings where others would strongly argue that available data clearly indicate the clinical value of an existing therapeutic strategy. However, the argument goes, if clinical research does not have to follow the ethical requirements of focusing on optimizing an individual patient’s chances for a favorable outcome—as would be the situation with clinical care—different rules would apply.
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